Letters from Italy

Letter “B” :: (in) Bianco


Honey, what's for dinner? Letters from Italy: "B" - (in) bianco | photo: ©MateldaCodagnone

Honey, what’s for dinner? Letters from Italy: “B” – (in) bianco
photo: ©MateldaCodagnone

When we talk about food and cooking, the word “bianco” (white) is frequently used in the phrase “in bianco” and it means plain food without any sauces or additional spices.

“Mangiare in bianco” (have plain food) often happens after being sick or after recovering from a malaise. Therefore, having “riso in bianco” (boiled rice) or “pasta in bianco” (plain pasta, i.e. with butter or olive oil) is not exactly the best treat for a food lover.

"La vita è una combinazione di magia e pasta." ~Federico Fellini | photo: ©MateldaCodagnone

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta” ~Federico Fellini
photo: ©MateldaCodagnone

“Carne bianca” is referred to poultry – opposed to red meat. Confetti bianchi (white confetti) are used for weddings only; for other colours read here: Did you say confetti?

“As it happens for many Italian words and phrases, “in bianco”, too, must be handled with care. Especially when it goes with the verb “andare”, as it means “not to score” and this is perhaps even worse than having a strict diet based on boiled rice.”

A “settimana bianca” (“white week”) does not mean that you’ll live on rice for seven days or that your ladykiller charm is worryingly dropping, but simply that you’re spending some days off in a ski resort in winter time. Be a “mosca bianca”(“white fly”) means “to be as rare as hen’s teeth”, and un “assegno in bianco” is a blank cheque. There are many more idiomatic uses of “(in) bianco”, – I don’t want to bore you about it – but the one that I like the most is “beviamoci un bicchiere di bianco”, let’s have a glass of “white”. Here, “white” can only be referred to wine.

Cheers to the pitfalls of the Italian language!

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